Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Wall Worth Climbing

We lucked out with weather and visibility at Shanhaiguan.

First Pass Under Heaven

We decided to go to part of the Great Wall well away from Beijing. Little did we expect to have the Wall to ourselves for over an hour given the enormous throngs in most parts here. But it is a big country and yesterday was bright and warm. Wonderful experience. We just caught the 7:50 train in the morning by the skin of our teeth and by 1pm had scaled the Wall to several hundred feet up a steep slope. This is near where the wall enters the sea, Shanhaiguan, a strategic military location at times of invasion from Manchus, Japanese and Russians, at different times through history. To-day is a bright blue sky in Beijing and to-morrow the flight back. Ho Hum.

Friday, November 23, 2007

From One Zoo to Another

It is like out of the frying pan into the fire. Suzhou station is a real zoo and unfortunately all roads and rail tracks seem to lead to it. It was a relief to get away to the urban throngs of downtown Shanghai yesterday. Basking in the sun on the Bund, entering a former bank with all its marble and my imaginary account, dreamland. Found the site of the founding of the Communist Party in the French Concession, quite a search. Train to Beijing to-day. Cheers.

Shanghai from the Bund

The view we had yesterday

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Here at a busy intersection at the Zoo that is Suzhou. Lynne on her first rickyshaw ride as she refers to them.

Slender West Lake Yangzhou

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vitamin D

Both of us have been under the weather the past few days. Maybe it was the fried dork in chinese sauce or the truck stop noodles in Shandong on our way south, but we have had the Hershey Squirts as Lynne refers to the runs. For the Europeans sake, Hershey is a big chocolate bar maker in North America! Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province was a very pleasant respite despite our health. China has 36 West Lakes, named after the one in Hangzhou I believe, and so we sat in the sun at Yangzhou's version yesterday and soaked up Vitamin D and tour group megaphone sound (in the background most of the time since we gave them a wide berth). To-day we are in Suzhou, famous for its Silk Road connection. We had pizza, our first fast food (in and out quickly) so far.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

´╝▓ailway Underpass

Computers working poorly so hope to get post in. Lynne and I were in Hebei province with weather cool and not so pleasant for a hike in the Tian He mountains to the west. We went through two high up villages on a 10k hike. Saw them extracting beautiful rock by pick for the ravenous building trade which continues in this country unabated. Photo is of a curious little girl saying goodbye to pappa who disappeared into gloomy railway underpass on way to work. Main lines Shanghai-Beijing truncate the community. Bikers put wheels in grooves as they descend to unlit depths to reemerge on other side. Just done a thirteen hour overnight on bus sleeper and now in Nanjing. Toodles

Saying Goodbye to Daddy

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

With the Colonels in Front of Bethune Statue

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anniversary of Bethune's Death

Lynne and I were special guests at the annual wreath laying ceremony in Shijiazhuang commemorating the death of Dr Norman Bethune on 12th November 1939. I gave a speech and we were then guided around the museum and hosted for a banquet. Being foreigners we were toasted and of course drunk under the table. Lynne could not stand up. Not true, I was worse off than her. Photos will tell the true story! I will be selective. I think we acquitted ourselves rather well truth be told. To-day we are visiting my adopted family in Xingtai and making dumplings. To-morrow it is off to the mountains.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yellow Emperor

Puning Si, Chengde

Refreshing Mists and Ripples

Lynne and I are at the Mountain Resort, Chengde, where Emperors of the Qing Dynasty (the last of the feudal dynasties which fell in 1911) would flee the summer heat of the capital at Beijing to a palace they built here at high elevation. The five hour train ride up from Beijing was through pollution you could cut like a knife. Yesterday was just hazy after rain but to-day was fresh and ideal photographic weather. Of the kaleidiscope of things coming at us the one that has stayed with me most is the pavilion in the summer palace where the emperor who ceded Kowloon (Hong Kong) to Britain and France signed that treaty and later died at a young age. Tragic and to have much of an impact for generations. The whole complex is certainly one where the Hall of Fragility and Tranquility and the Refreshing Mists and Ripples (on the lake) seem aptly named. Off on sleeper train to-night.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chengde Yurts

Dish Hair

Lynne and I have been in the Middle Kingdom since Monday Beijing time, Sunday evening in Canada. The 13.5 hour flight out of Toronto was uneventful taking us up north over Resolute Bay, just west of the North Pole, over Siberia and then Mongolia and finally into Beijing from the northwest. I did a slight panic losing my entry card filled out on the plane just seconds before meeting the customs officer, but with no adverse effects. We sat in the row immediately behind colonels from the PLA whom we had hosted at Bethune House just days before. Total coincidence. They have offered to send a car to drive us a round and treat us royally, one we may decline but we shall see. We are going to offer some red maple leafs as a small token, ones that will be symbolic since we gathered them from trees which would have been outside the window of Norman Bethune the day he was born. Our most amusing chinglish so far is "Dish Hair" as a hairdressing option and "fried dork in Chinese sauce" as a culinary delight. We are in chengde to-day escaping the summer heat (name of palace) even though it is a fresh autumn day. Toodles.